Steeple People plans to close on Jan. 31.
After 37 years of operation and three years searching for a new location, operators said they haven’t found an affordable storefront. The thrift store must leave by Feb. 28 to make way for a new apartment project on the corner.
“We’re still looking, but it’s going to take a miracle to find a place that we can afford,” said Manager Bob Janssen. “We’ve been privy to good rent at this old dilapidated building at Lyndale & Franklin. Every place we looked at, we would lose money.”
Steeple People Board President Lee Carlson said they considered the Cheapo Records space on Nicollet and another spot at 1901 Nicollet Ave., and neither location panned out. Because half of their clients come from the neighborhood, they’ve been focused on relocating nearby. But gentrification in recent years means their below-market rent can’t be found, he said.
Carlson said he’s hesitant to crowdfund money to subsidize a move.
“We’re in the business of giving money, not accepting it,” he said.
Carlson said they’re still open to a new location, ideally about 5,000 square feet located between Lake Street, I-35W, Hennepin and Franklin avenues.
Steeple People was founded in 1979 by members of Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church. In that time, the organization has given nearly $1 million in grants to community organizations and outreach ministries.
The store is operated by a handful of paid staff and nearly 100 volunteers.
“It’s a blow to all of us,” Janssen said. “We’ll see what happens.”